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State must act now to check food wastage

By Editorial | Nov 20th 2014 | 2 min read

Early this month, when Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei issued licences to some individuals to import sugar ostensibly to cover a deficit in the local market, claims emerged that the Government had also issued licences for the importation of 60,000 tonnes of maize from Tanzania when there was no need to do so.

It should be recalled that in August, maize farmers in Uasin Gishu barricaded the main Eldoret-Webuye road for hours protesting against the Government's inability and (maybe) unwillingness to purchase maize from farmers while their harvest went to waste because of poor storage facilities and exploitation by middlemen and millers who were offering Sh2,350 per bag instead of Sh2,800.

Viewed against the cost of labour and production, farmers asked the Government to protect them from this exploitation.

Last week, farmers renewed their call for the Government to buy their maize fearing further wastage as a consequence of poor storage facilities.

Even as they made this call, they noted that the Government stores were full of imported maize. The inference here is that the Government also lacks adequate storage facilities, which aggravated the situation.

An association of the German Engineering Federation, VDMA, claims more than 40 per cent of the food produced in Kenya is lost on account of poor storage facilities and inadequate processing and packaging.

This, the analysts noted, was a big contributory factor to the twin problems of starvation and poverty in the country.

Poor packaging was blamed on outdated technology while the general wastage was as a result of cooling systems not being made available to farmers, and inadequate storage facilities.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates put annual global food losses at between 20 and 75 per cent. The Government's should woo investors, and consider expanding its silos and investing in cold rooms to save grain from going to waste.

The estimated food losses are sufficient to feed the starving masses in Kenya who, with prudent Government planning, need not suffer the pangs of hunger.


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